Pernes Long Wasabi Potato Chips

Another SIAL goodie! This time, a chip hailing from Romania with a Japanese flavor profile, picked up in Paris by an American. So, a multi-cultural delight by proxy. As soon as I saw these, I knew I had to pick up a package of them. According to their website, they are the longest chips in the world. They follow the same format as Pringles- extruded potato snack, but are thicker and also packaged in a structure that, if switched with a similar package containing a hand-painted portrait of Vladimir Lenin in porcelain on a human tooth, would be packaged with similar care. Seriously. They are sheathed in a cardboard barrier, around a plastic-sealed foil package. Condoms go through less protocol than this and they prevent babies from happening

Once these wonder-chips are out of their shuttle, they are pungent with wasabi. And cardboard in scent, but that disappears about five seconds in. They are thicker than your average chip, but lacking oil, are consequently much more brittle. The flavor powder is applied much like the spray paint from your favorite 90’s airbrushed tee. Yes, the one from Sharon’s bat mitzvah with a blatant generic ripoff of Goofy on it- gradients all up in this bitch. As a result of the inconsistent spraying, the intensity of each bite ranges from sinus-clearing to weaksauce. The company also has the best website I have ever seen. There’s a moveable 3D model!
The texture is bizarre. Their structure straddles the line between object and food, creating somewhat of a dissonance when snacking on them. I feel less like I’m eating them and more like I’m processing them for some wasabi-generated all-natural machine, possibly from the mid to late 90’s (do I sense a trend?) when dot-matrix paper was still utilized, minus the soul-numbing frustration of visiting a parent at work. However, once you get past that, they are all too easy to eat and have a wonderful flavor. I’m surprised that I haven’t seen any reviews of these- although Dave’s Cupboard did write about some chips similar to these back in 2011.

Pringles Rosemary and Olive Oil

It’s a bright, sunny day in Paris. What’s that, you say? Something about a hurricane? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m living in the middle of an Annie Liebovitz photoshoot and have received a free puppy and newly minted sack of cash in the mail every day for a week now. I jest, I jest, I’m actually sick in bed and procrastinating on a group project. Glamour = my life, I assure you that. There are a few perks to living in the City of Lights, though, not the least of which is NEW AMERICAN BRAND FLAVORS, said the Moderately Attractive, yet Paunchy American. (Redefining the stereotype, I say!) Yes, while “lightly salted” inexplicably passes for a sensation back home, stores are filling the shelves with the latest and greatest Euro-flavor of the month, Rosemary and Olive Oil Pringles.

And yes, don’t adjust your TV set, that image of two nonsentient, yet seductive Pringles-brand Pringles chips getting down and dirty on the package a la Romeo and Juliet is one hundred percent not photoshopped. At least, not by me. Pringles wants you to know that this will beat out oysters, raspberries, Ferrero Rocher, flavored condoms, Four Loko, and crude Snoopy-shaped molded peanut butter cups as THE Valentine’s Day snack of 2013. Prepare to get it on, saddle-shaped potato snack style.

Well, needless to say, the bold advertising and graphics had many things raised in my bedroom that night, not the least of which were my expectations. Simple flavors like rosemary and olive oil are easy to make and hard to screw up, so I expected Pringles to go big or go home crying and playing “Mean” by Taylor Swift on repeat. I’m pleased to say that these chips delivered unexpectedly well. The thing that I dislike most about Pringles is Pringles themselves, unfortunately, but the well-seasoned crisps, entwined in the throes of starch-based ecstasy, are bold and vibrant with distinct olive and rosemary flavors.

I was most impressed with the way that the olive oil was infused into the chip. While it was definitely bolstered by garlic, onion, and parmesan, undercutting the simplicity of the featured flavors, there was a musky, buttery undertone and distinctly briny aftertaste of olive oil that was impressive, given how devoid of grease these typically are. There’s a sour, slightly bitter bite not unlike Sour Cream and Onion Pringles, but with a sweeter complexity.  

The rosemary, in addition to the sugar preceding it in the ingredient list, softened the strength of the savory flavors and added a bright tough of sweetness to the chips. Definitely classier than your average Pringles, though the iconic shape would make them difficult to use as a bait-‘n’-switch appetizer in lieu of bruschetta.

FritoLay Yakitori Corn Snack Two Flavors (Negima & Tare)

Grilling season is almost over, at least for me. Luckily, I have some tasty treats to tide me over when steak frites and ice cream no longer pushes my buttons. J-List sent over a whole mess of treats for me to nosh on in Gay Paree. I had to crack a few open before my departure, though, and was very curious about this Yakitori snack. And yes, it is called FritoLay Yakitori Corn Snack Two Flavors (Negima & Tare) and contains two shapes and flavors of corn chips, similar in texture to Jax with a rough, airy interior. The combination of the two flavors is supposed to mimic the overall sensation of eating Yakitori, Japanese teriyaki-grilled chicken.

The two types of chips couldn’t have been more different. The negima chip, hollow and tubular with a bulky shape, had a sweet and smoky flavor with coffee, caramel, and a corn and butter flavor with a forward wasabi aftertaste. I thought it would be fun to eat first and get information about what these were after trying them out. Apparently the negi is a Japanese long onion, native to the country, with a sweeter and lighter flavor than our green onion equivalents back home. It was really unique and varied with a curious set of spices and I loved its interpretation in chip form. I imagine the real thing would be delicious as well!

The football-shaped chips were not hollow, and seemed to have a softer crunch than the negima chips. These were sweet and savory, with a soy sauce and garlic flavor and corn base. I enjoyed them enough, and after discovering they mimicked the soy-based condiment atop the chicken, found them aptly flavored. Did the chips taste like yakitori when eaten together? I couldn’t tell you, as they were impossible to fit in my mouth together. The negima chips were simply too large eat in one bite and too messy to cleave in half. These were fantastic chips, though, and were clearly conceived very carefully with a remarkable attention to detail. Definitely something I’d seek out in other flavors and they kicked the ass of our “twofer” chips. Go home, buffalo and blue cheese!

Herr’s Fire-Roasted Sweet Corn Potato Chips

Well, well, well. I had always crossed my fingers in the hopes that this day would come. I’d picked up pennies off the sidewalk, wished on a thousand stars, chucked spare change at people painted like statues in the park (that IS how you get extra wishes, right?) and turned in Lucky the Leprechaun to the FBI. And damn it, it all paid off.

Japan, your time has come.

On one or six occasions, I’ve professed my adoration for the whacky world of Asian chips and snacks and have yearned, pleaded, for these flavors to infiltrate the American market. Because since when did “lightly salted” started passing as a flavor? These flavors make my eyes glow with excitement and an underlying loathing for the pedestrian palates of my peers. It’s funny, though, with Frito Lay’s close involvement in the Asian snack market, I never thought that the progression would come from a decidedly New England-centric company, Herr’s. And what a seasonally appropriate flavor, too. Fire-roasted sweet corn. With every adjective comes an expectation. The question is, will the chips deliver?

Well, let’s start with the basics. The chips look innocuous. They’re feverishly endorsed on the back of the bag, all but promising you the lively conversation and eventual politically-fueled screaming matches that all backyard barbecues descend to after a period of time. And they smell. What do they smell like? Popcorn oil butter candy. Potato lies somewhere under summer’s perfume. The chips are the standard, oversized, high-quality ridges Herr’s regularly puts out. They have a soft, yielding crunch and don’t absorb too much grease.

The flavor can be best described as inspired by Inception. It’s butter in an ear of corn inside a potato chip inside a dream. Okay, more like a nightmare. While I can’t completely discount them for screwing up a flavor only the Japanese have managed to master, the overwhelming consensus is that these are more than a little unappetizing. And yet we can’t stop eating them. The flavor is spot-on. It’s so bad, it’s good, because there are three very familiar flavors in one bite and they come in distinct phases. First, that overly sweet canned corn element, then a cloying buttered popcorn greasiness, and lastly, a distinctly smoky barbecue note. Freaking strange, man. It’s like taking a dog and putting it in a cat costume. Somewhat the same, and somewhat familiar, but…not.

We like them anyway.

Cheetos W Gourmet Corn Potage Soup

“It’s 4/20,” I said to Miss Love, “So I’m going to review this strange flavor of Japanese Cheetos.”
“They’ll like that, right?” I said with the apprehensive tone of a middle-aged father trying to pick out a hip-hop CD for his teenage son’s birthday. “They like bizarre combinations and things that come from Asia, right?” Well, while these contain neither hemp nor any advertisement, subliminal or otherwise, referring to or evoking Bob Marley, they are, like stoners, both fascinating and a hair creepy, so happy 4/20!
These chips came from Japan, sourced by J-List, and are part of the Frito-Lay Japan Cheeto “W” line. Not to be confused with the gourmet line of Cheetos, or the chocolate-covered Cheetos, or the Cheetos released that taste like all the different kinds of Korean cuisine, these double-your (“W”) your flavor by using twice the normal amount of flavor powder. Double your pleasure, double your pun, Japan. No word on whether some ambitious gamer has conducted a quantitative study as to exactly what the normal amount is and whether this is actually doubled, but suffice to say the class action lawsuit settlement alone would be enough to keep you rich in Cheeto dust fingers for your entire life and afterlife.
Oddly enough, the first thing that struck me about these wasn’t so much the powder, but the scent. It smelled like I’d accidentally wandered into a Denny’s or a state fairground, a sweet combination of maple syrup, fresh kettle corn, and oil wafting out of the bag. Not bad, but completely unexpected. Out of the bag, the Cheetos didn’t appear to have any more flavor powder than their standard, naked counterparts, and the powder was subtly colored rather than taking a page from the nuclear ‘merican ones we’ve come to know and love.
The flavor is curious. It tastes like sour cream and onion chips and Corn Pops met under normal circumstances, dated for a while, had some mutual differences that were impossible to overcome (she’s too sweet and cloying, he has an underlying musky scent like he doesn’t bathe) and parted on good terms, resolving to stay friends all the same. Until they met up at their ten-year high school reunion, reconnected, and she popped out these nine months later. They’re neither breakfast nor snack food, but they contain familiar elements of both. The sweet and savory balance is spot-on, and while I couldn’t detect any cheesiness in these, there was a definite heaviness not unlike actual corn potage, combining starchy, rich flavors with other starchy, rich flavors. Perhaps these are better eaten in the winter, or as the bag suggests, atop actual corn potage like a fat kid’s croutons. Either way, I found that despite their perplexing odor, they subtly and masterfully highlighted the base ingredient of Cheetos- corn, and added an extra layer of flavor mimicry to them as well. Best paired with Pink Floyd and more Cheetos, I assume.

Herr’s Buffalo Blue Cheese Flavored Cheese Curls

I’m in college, but I’m not Van Wilder, so now is the time when the academic system starts anxiously tapping her toes, looking at the clock on the wall and asking the perpetually unanswered question: so, what are you going to do for the rest of your life? I’ve mentioned here that I want to study law. As a result of the relentless eyes of the system on my back, I’ve been face-deep in the LSAT instead of face-deep in cupcakes and puppies as I would personally have it and have started applying all the LSAT theories to the meaningless details of my life. Believe me, you know you’re not making any friends when you start accusing your own grandmother of denying the premise fallacy every time she draws a connection between Clinton and the aliens. In the arguments section of the LSAT, there is a tool called the transitive property, which basically gives the conclusion that if A is true in relation to B, and that B is true in relation to C, we can conclude that because A is true, C is also true.
This crossed my mind while I was eating these cheese poofs from Herr’s today. I know, I’m a freaking savant. A large box of these came in the mail a while ago and I’ve been whittling down my supply in moments of sheer anxiety, because nothing says professional like a sweating hand covered in cheese dust. While eating the delicious tubes, the following occurred to me: Out of the 889 posts I’ve written in the past few years, there has been a trend. If I review a food that supposedly imitates another food, I am judging it based on its successful resemblance to both products. If it successfully resembles both products, I will give it a good rating. But what if a product resembles neither of its two forms yet is still freaking awesome? The moral of the story, of course, is that it’s incredibly silly to presuppose a working theory onto a freaking cheese puff review.
Regardless, this product scientifically contains all of the components that are designed and curved to tickle my pleasure enhancers. Buffalo sauce diluted to a powdery, sticky form, the flavor of blue cheese without the nasty texture and moldiness of blue cheese, and an incredibly soft, yielding texture like a crunchy memory foam pillow. I quite enjoyed these. With an addictive texture and crammable shape, they made for a unique twist on a traditional snack that could accompany a sandwich without taking away the attention.
However, I didn’t feel like the buffalo flavor was distinct enough to pick it out of a lineup of other generic sauces. The blue cheese was softened in flavor enough to take some of the harsh tanginess out, also a good sign. Although one package contains 10 grams of fat and 15% of your daily sodium, I can’t resist eating a few now and then and saving the rest for later. Their front and forward saltiness makes it satisfying to just eat a few.
Did it remind me of buffalo wings? Not at all. Did it remind me of cheese curls? Barely. By all definitions, it was a failure of my transitive property argument. It was still a spectacular snack, though, and one that I’d get again if I just wanted something a little strange. Besides, it beats studying for the LSAT at a crowded bar, over a plate of questionable chicken wings.

Bacon Steak and Tomato Doritos ‘n’ Chips for Highball

“Your mom. Champagne glass. 64% classier.” – Your Mom Is Clubbin’
Here at Foodette, we prioritize a number of elite values in the food blogging world, not the least of which is “above all, pretension.” And everyone knows that Japanified versions of American snacks designed to pair with cocktails are pretentious, to say the least, without even mentioning that these chips are endorsed by an expert, Japan’s best sommelier in 1995, Shinya Tasaki. Hell yes? I mean, look at this guy’s face. Sniffing out of a Riedel Burgundy glass in a tuxedo. I would trust everything that man said even if he told me he could take me on a tour of Hell in between sips of DRC La Tache.
J-List sent these over for us to try. According to the description, Mr. Tasaki and Frito-Lay formulated these chips to ride on the coattails of the burgeoning Asian wine market sales. Because nothing goes as well with an $8,000 bottle of 1947 Petrus like Doritos and Sun Chips, am I right? This particular flavor was designed to pair well with cocktails, presumably ones you can enjoy with Tasaki’s $200 corkscrew and bottle opener. The bag has two different types of chips, flavored like bacon steak and tomato ketchup. The chips are smaller than your average Dorito but still have the rounded edges and thicker crunch of Japanese Doritos. The scent is pungent, like getting a noseful of Spanish paprika and tomato sauce, with an almost cloying initial sweetness wafting up from the bag.
The Doritos were definitely more successful than the Sun Chips, with a light, crispy crunch and wonderful flavor. These tasted like the Herr’s Heinz ketchup chips but with a deeper, richer tomato sauce flavor, with a brown sugar edge and garlic bite to them. They were very sweet, but not in a way that made them inedible or incongruous with the rest of the chips. The natural sweet, oily flavor of the corn chip was a wonderful carrier of the ketchup flavor. It sort of put regular ketchup to shame as I felt that the flavor was just deeper and tangier, more of a marinara but somehow sweeter. Unique and a little strange to adjust to, but tasty.
The Sun Chips were supposed to mimic the exact flavor of the giant, quivering bacon slab on the package. A tough act to follow. And they crumbled in the face of porcine goodness, providing a weak smoky flavor dominated by the corny heft of the chip. No bacon, no fattiness, nothing that would have suggested meat or even barbecue sauce. It mainly tasted like ground black pepper and corn, not a bad flavor profile, but also not bacon. I’ve noted this before in Japanese Cheetos- all of the chips are much thicker and the denser ones end up having a dry noodle-like texture. Not a bad thing, but also kind of strange to get used to.
So the chips were good on their own, but what about alongside a few drinks? In one of the most stupidly surreal Foodette photoshoots ever, we documented the success of these chips as snacks and as cocktail pairings with what else? Bakon vodka, because you can’t eat bacon chips without drinking a bacon drink. Says so somewhere in the Bible or something.
We made three cocktails, two contemporary and one classic to try with the chips. Our first cocktail didn’t utilize bacon outside of a small curled garnish. It was a classic gin and tonic, nothing more, nothing less. The sweet cooked tomato flavor of the Doritos really amplified the sweet juniper notes in the gin, but neither was so sweet as to feel like a dessert or candy.
The second cocktail was kind of a “kitchen sink” style drink to gross out Miss Love and also see how the chips held up with a little spice. Enter the Flaming Bacon- bacon vodka, hot pepper vodka, Prometheus Springs pomegranate black pepper juice, club soda, and a salsa dipped bacon garnish. Despite the grocery list of ingredients and the science beaker presentation, it didn’t taste like ass and the chips held up to the spice of the drink. It was surprisingly the best combination of the triad.
Our last drink failed and completely overwhelmed the chips. The Broker’s Breakfast had hazelnut espresso vodka, bacon vodka, milk, and club soda. It was atrociously flavored and discordant with a fake sweetener aftertaste. The creaminess destroyed the flavors of the chips with a filmy, boozy tang. But aside from that, it seemed like the chips actually were congruent with fruity, tangy, and even spicy drinks. Then again, what salty snack isn’t? These would be a unique alternative to a traditional pub mix, but didn’t seem wildly outside of the realm of other sodium-laden nibbles designed to sop up booze. Maybe the wine-based Doritos will prove to be more successful.

Zapp’s Voodoo Potato Chips

Some people are easy to please. Not me. I could never figure out the motives someone who was able to go to the movies and feel satisfied with a small popcorn, sans salt, butter, or smuggled cheese sauce, never mind passing up the litany of candies and Slurpees along the way. I can’t go to a barbecue that lacks thirty flavors of mustard and ten different artisanal sausages, and I rarely order a pizza that isn’t buried under a glut of toppings.

So you’d think I’d be pleased to find these potato chips, which are not only a total sensory overload with the aesthetic simplicity of a Magic Eye, but also an homage to one of life’s creepiest regional quirks, voodoo. Another particularly bratty habit of mine. I’m not big on chips without dip, nor pretzels without mustard. Unadorned junk food just doesn’t do it for me. Zapp’s is an elusive potato chip company from some region in the US with a large concentration of sports teams. I don’t know, I don’t follow cricket. Whatever. It’s rare to find these chips in their limited edition flavors, unless, of course, you check out Big Lots! It really is my new favorite hookup for discontinued products and hookups. This flavor, Voodoo, is less Santeria-style chicken heads and entrails and more “whoops, due to a carefully controlled employee mishap at our factory, we came out with this flavor” deal. I tell you, that shit would not fly at a CDC testing facility, no siree. Kind of uncanny how often that happens. Maybe they shouldn’t hire voodoo dolls as employees any more. Note that there is unfortunately no gris-gris at the bottom of the bag. Collect them all!
While I normally try to avoid kettle chips as they invariably get stuck in my soft palate, I bought these out of a weakness for the visual design. Look at this bag and tell me you don’t want to get it tattooed on your bicep, crazy-colored dolls, neon script, and all. Or at least commission a loud shirt out of the basic design. The backstory is mild in comparison, though, as are the cutesy phone order and computer graphics on the back. Opening the bag, I was immediately hit by a blast of tangy vinegar, salt, and the brown sugar paprika sweetness of barbecue. A good sign, if unoriginal. The chips are softer than the average kettle chip, although they do still fracture into a kazillion pieces upon impact and have a lot of surface area and curling to catch a good amount of seasoning in the cooking process.
The flavor is hard to pin down, starting with an acidic kick of vinegar and then morphing into a combination of sugary barbecue with an end result almost identical to the tomatoey sweetness in a bag of Herr’s Heinz Ketchup chips. The chip’s heavy garlic and onion influence and crisp, slightly greasy texture lend an almost chickeny flavor and feel to the chip, which is unique but not completely welcomed. It’s definitely a snack with an identity crisis. I’m not beyond new combinations and ideas, but I wasn’t seeing any congruent theme in this chip that made me want to go back for more. As hokey as it seems, surely a company wouldn’t completely throw caution to the wind and just let the production of a flavor happen accidentally with no science behind the flavors? It was too sweet and too sharp for my liking and just didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
What I really wanted with these was a kick of heat. I solved the problem by dipping them into some salsa verde until I realized that the only reason I was eating the chips was to have something as a vehicle to eat the salsa with short of pouring it into my mouth. Even with sauce added, there was just something off about these chips that didn’t quite make them regular players in my lunch box.

Archer Farms Greek-Inspired Thick-Cut Potato Chips

The geniuses at Industrial Snack and Magic have created yet another mind-morphing flavor of potato chip, brought to you by Target, to blow your mind and gently caress your tongue. And really, who wouldn’t want the vague flavors of a Greek gyro in a small, single-serving bag? Nazis, that’s who. And even they would warm up to the description of feta cheese and kalamata olives. It’s a veritable freaking medley, is what it is! Although we found these in miniature bags on clearance, they were perfectly fresh and crisp. Maybe snack bags of salad inspired chips just aren’t on kids’ radars outside of kids in UES schools.
In any case, these were eaten in the car, paired with a slice of leftover birthday cake and gummy rabbits. A most balanced pairing, one of my finest. Archer Farms is a professional at this strangely flavored potato chip racket, a riverboat snacker, if you will, and this happens to be one of their better flavors. While I’m not a fan of the ruffled texture, the flavor was fairly accurate for an ingredient rap list that included cheddar cheese and the ever-generic “spices”. It had the pleasantly unobtrusive tang of feta, and while it may not have completely evoked the crumbly, wet texture of the cheese, it certainly got its flavor down pat. The olives were a stretch. By stretch, I mean they were nonexistent. I suppose my tongue isn’t enough attuned to the nuances of olives to discern its specific provenance, but it tasted like the olives hopped the ship once they learned they weren’t going to garnish one of Giada De Laurentiis’s RI-GAAAAHT-AAAAH dinners and sent in vinegar as a replacement. Tangy cheese and…tangier condiment. Felt like I’d eaten the good bits of a salad.
Original though it was, some things were never meant to be potato chips, Greek food one of them. The flavors were present, but overshadowed by the potato chip itself in all its likeable yet greasy personality. The Guy Fieri of all snacks. Though I can’t help but wonder what a culinary trip around the globe would be in places where balut is the regional specialty. Knowing the companies behind them, they’d find a way to make even partially fertilized duck fetuses bland and overly salted. For 75 cents, this served its noble purpose as an interlude between meals, a brief distraction from the dining halls, but on any grander scale, it would just fall flat.

Chuao Potato Chips in Chocolate Bar

Resting in the shadow of salted everything, the chocolate covered potato chip fad seemed to be a popular item on etsy alone. It didn’t seem like a terribly marketable concept, either. Large chip companies couldn’t manufacture them due to heat issues and ingredient sourcing, and most chocolatiers seemed to find them gauche, their eyes lit by the sophisticated salted caramel or ganache. Luckily, Chuao has picked up the chip and developed their newest bar, an easier to eat, more sophisticated version of the popular snack. As their full-sized bars and pods are, this bar is no exception to their stunningly molded cocoa bean design. It’s a visually appealing bar, not to mention that it matched perfectly with my new 70’s era rec room color and design scheme- burnt orange and wooden bar nibble bowl for the win. Professional food stylist, I am not.

Using kettle chips for an unctuous crunch and milk chocolate for a mellow sweetness to contrast the saltier elements, the bar is a smashing success. The chips are broken up into small shards, which enable them to be layered within the bar and bring a massive crunch to every bite. We didn’t have a single one that wasn’t loud and crispy, just like eating regular chips. There was a slight oiliness to the chips that brought out the richness of the bar, and the saltiness was a superb counterpart to the sugars in the chocolate.

As far as saltiness and crunch went, I found this to be more successful than the Panko bar, though equally enjoyable. It’s a bold, sassy bar with nothing to hide or disguise, like certain mommy blogs or Michael Jackson. This just packed in more chunks of chip in each bite than the Panko did, for my salt-craving tastebuds, anyhow. Yet it’s not too salty so as to detract from the wonderfully milky, sweet 41% milk chocolate that mad scientist/genius chocolatier Michael Antonorsi blends together. It has a firm snap and texture that easily cut into strips without crumbling (not to mention surviving the drive from Washington, DC to Massachusetts in a small bag) and was the perfect pairing for the salty chips, though I would have preferred a deeper, more complex flavor. It’s missing some of the more dark, caramelized flavors I’m drawn to. I think milk chocolate was the right choice for this bar. Anything else would have overwhelmed the flavor of the chips.

At $6 a bar, this is a unique yet approachable selection or gift for eaters wishing to make a successful foray into stranger chocolates without splurging on these $19 Neiman-Marcus Pringles knock-offs. It’s not the weirdest flavor combination I’ve ever had, but it carries a nostalgic set of flavors tied to comfort in a contemporary pairing, which makes for an incredibly succulent snack or dessert.